As expected, the NBA dished out penalties for the events of Game 2 in Los Angeles last night. Derek Fisher was suspended for one game for knocking Luis Scola to the floor with an elbow. Additionally, Kobe Bryant was assessed a flagrant one foul for elbowing Ron Artest. Though the results disagree with what I wrote this morning, I am not at all surprised.
Fisher's elbow certainly deserved a suspension. The phrase, "There are hard fouls, and then there are cheap shots..." has been worn down to a thread, but it still rings true. Though contact was not made above Scola's shoulders, it was Fisher's intent that made the suspension necessary. Good call by the NBA.
As for the Bryant play, the league has the best replay, assuming there is one camera view that few others saw. ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan said that he viewed a replay that indicated that Bryant's elbow was in Ron's upper chest area. If that is indeed what the NBA saw, then the flagrant one is the right call, period. There were disagreements this morning as to what really took place, but now that it's been resolved, we can leave the Lakers alone. I think we've all expressed our opinions on the matter quite thoroughly.
However, I am still confused by Ron Artest's actions. If Kobe did not elbow Artest in the throat, then what kind of show was Crazy Pills putting on for everyone?
Ron, you got some splainin' to do.
I'm all for standing tall and not backing down. We know that Ron isn't afraid to fend for himself either. But did he have a legitimate reason to take his argument to that high of a level? Did he have to get in Kobe's face and effectively eject himself? Because if what the NBA says is true, that Kobe's elbow was merely to the chest, then Ron's retaliation wasn't worth it. The outcome of the game was not yet decided. That is, of course, until number 96 left the floor.
Making a statement to Kobe is important - I will agree with that. But could it have been done by someone of lesser value to our team? Losing Ron affected us more than a few strong words could ever affect Bryant.
There are certain cheap shots that Kobe could have taken to make Ron's display worth carrying out. An elbow to or near the face; a punch or kick to the midsection; anything blatantly cheap and non-basketball-like. I think an elbow to the stomach during a box-out falls slightly below the others. It was one thing for Ron to plead his case to the officials. But it was quite another for him to get in Kobe's face amidst an already heated atmosphere. It just brings up old memories that we all thought Ron had moved on from.
By over-reacting to the play, Artest put a personal vendetta over his team. Remember when he and Kobe were jawing in Houston way back when? It was the night that Kobe took the game over and made Artest look like a fool. Each time down the court, there was Ron, continuing to talk trash to Kobe even while Bryant was scoring at will. Bryant got in Ron's head, and instead of playing through it, Artest took it personally, and it hurt his team. If that game was the reason for Ron's extended reaction to last night's elbow, then shame on him.
Artest must get his priorities straight heading into Game 3. I have the utmost confidence in him, as long as he keeps his head in line. He is saying all the right things - now he has to do them.